How would you describe the perfect assistant? One that doesn't complain, never takes a day off and always does what you ask? Sounds pretty good and impossible to find — at least in human form.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) found the majority of nurses surveyed preferred a robot to a human to fill the job of assistant health care worker. And they're not afraid of being replaced by caregiving machines.
"The professional caregivers we interviewed viewed robots as a way to improve their jobs and the care they're able to give patients," Tracy Mitzner, one of the study's leaders and a researcher at Georgia Tech's Human Factors and Aging Laboratory, said in a statement.
However, nurses were pretty specific about what they would and wouldn't like their mechanical helpers to do. Respondents said they'd like robots to help with housework, remind patients to take their medications and lift patients from a chair to a bed. However, home caregivers preferred to keep interactions — such as feeding, bathing and dressing patients — to themselves.
The results parallel those from an earlier Georgia Tech study, which found that those receiving care preferred a human for helping with daily living tasks and robots for menial chores. [ See also: Top 7 Useful Robots You Can Buy Right Now ]
The idea behind the studies is to help roboticists develop health care robots that people in the field will actually use.
"It doesn't make sense to build robots that won't be accepted by the end user," Mitzner said.
Mitzner and her team are presenting their findings at CHI 2013, the Association for Computing Machinery's annual conference, which is being held in Paris this week.